Radical right discourse and discrimination
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Description: “Welfare chauvinism” (or “welfare ethnocentrism”, when directed against native-born ethnic minorities) is a declination of nativism within the social policy domain, and a common element of populist radical right discourse. Previous studies have shown that this rhetoric can influence how people perceive the deservingness and entitlement of certain groups to welfare rights. In this study, we propose it has additional effects: by evoking a purported lack of reciprocity in what concerns benefits from and contributions to the welfare system, such rhetoric can also justify and legitimize discrimination against out-groups in other domains that are unrelated to welfare. We use a pre-registered experiment embedded in a survey of a nationally representative sample of the Portuguese population to examine whether individuals who are exposed to the issue of illegitimate “takers” of the welfare system become more likely to express discriminatory intentions regarding an out-group’s freedom of movement and establishment. We find that in the Portuguese context, where the populist radical right frequently portrays the Roma minority as welfare abusers, highlighting the issue of welfare reciprocity can trigger a sizeable increase in discriminatory intentions towards the Romani.